You’re doing journalism wrong

Pastor Jerry Allen Jackson claims that God used him “as an illustration” to deliver a message during his sermon last Sunday. Now Pastor Jerry has successfully manipulated his local media into a conduit for proselytizing to his community. Here are excerpts from Tara Edwards’ piece (emphasis mine):

[Time] was the focus of his sermon Sunday at Abundant Life Ministries in Ypslanti. We’re told at some point Pastor Jerry suddenly slumped.

Five registered nurses inside the church went to work on the pastor who they say had no pulse or heartbeat.

The whole congregation began praying for him while CPR was performed. The news was sent out to other churches and they began praying.

“Then i [sic] sat up and then I asked for the mic. ‘Amen, and I told them ‘praise God… I told you God will give you more time,” said Pastor Jerry.

Paramedics took him to the hospital  — at first it was believed he had a heart attack.

But now, Pastor Jerry says they don’t know what caused his heart to stop for minutes. He says he doesn’t need a reason, he says he knows why it did.

“I know because the message was God will give you more time. So he just used me as an illustration as I will give you more time.”

The pastor plans to take a break next Sunday and return the following Sunday better than ever.

To recap: a pastor preaching about God giving us more time conveniently experiences a “miracle” demonstrating his exact point, to the amazement of his faithful followers – including the media.

An incident so fishy should draw some skepticism from journalists, but Tara Edwards and the rest of WXYZ Detroit lapped it up.

A simple Google search for “fake healing” shows how frequently faith leaders use deception to sell their messages (and how easy it is to debunk these frauds). WXYZ’s report doesn’t look into this possibility a bit. Nor does it bother to include interviews with any witnesses besides the pastor and his wife. Pastor Jerry offered to spoon feed WXYZ a story, and they swallowed it unquestioningly.

Is it possible that Pastor Jerry really did succumb to some unexplained heart condition in his church last Sunday? Of course, but it does not mean that God was sending him a message. Is it also possible that Pastor Jerry was lying to make a point? We’ve got a motive…

Journalists have a special duty to look at stories objectively in order to find the truth. It appears that WXYZ failed completely in this instance.

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1 Comment

Filed under Atheism/Religion

One response to “You’re doing journalism wrong

  1. Liz

    Wow. I just, I can’t believe they wouldn’t even think to question other witnesses at the scene. Or do a simple google search. That’s just ridiculous. And they wonder why people are losing respect for journalists and journalism in general.

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